Seattle, San Diego and Cincinnati Select New Leaders, Des Moines Chief Stepping Down
Lamont Jackson, who has led the San Diego Unified School District in an interim capacity for the last year, has been named as superintendent in a unanimous vote of the school board.
The new school leader has deep roots in San Diego, the state’s second-largest district with more than 120,000 students. A graduate of city schools, Jackson over the years rose from teaching assistant to teacher, coach, principal, human resources chief, and area superintendent.
Board vice president Sabrina Bazzo described him as “a true San Diego Unified success story who is committed to our students, staff and community,” according to a district news release.
Jackson passed muster with the board and a 48-member advisory committee of community leaders representing the district’s diverse student population.
He succeeds Cindy Marten, who was appointed deputy secretary of education last year by President Biden.
After conducting a national search for a superintendent, Seattle Public Schools named interim leader Brent Jones as its permanent leader. A graduate of the school system, Jones has been the interim superintendent of the 52,381-student school district, the state’s largest, since May 2021.
“We want to make sure our students have a sense of belonging, a sense of identity safety and that they know that adults love and care for them,” said Jones, who once served as the district’s former chief equity, partnerships, and engagement officer. “It’s that deep connection that creates the best chance for our students to excel and reach their highest level of academic achievement.”
In Cincinnati, the board of education has tapped Iranetta Wright to be superintendent of the 36,000-student school system.
Wright has been deputy superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District the past five years. She previously spent more than 25 years in the Duval County, Fla., school system, rising to the role of chief of schools.
Cincinnati board president Ben Lindy described Wright as “committed to transformative, positive change for our students, community and staff.”
Long-time Leader in Des Moines to Step Down
In Des Moines, superintendent Tom Ahart announced his resignation, effective in June, after a decade leading the 33,000-student district, beginning as interim in 2012 and appointed in 2013.
Ahart cited equity as being at the core of his tenure, according to the Des Moines Register. The district earned the Magna Award from the National School Boards Association for its efforts.
The outgoing schools chief cited achievements including standards-based grading, a districtwide school of choice, increased Advanced Placement course enrollment, and improved graduation rates.
School board chair Dwana Bradley lauded Ahart's commitment to the district and described him as "accessible, candid, and sincere in his approach to his work," according to a district news release. "Whether lobbying at the State Capitol or cheering in the stands of an athletic event - Dr. Ahart has always operated with the interests of our community, our district, and our students in mind," she said.
In Buffalo, the school board named Tonja Williams, associate superintendent of student support services, as interim superintendent after Kriner Cash resigned.
Williams grew up in Buffalo and said, after her appointment, “I am through and through, a Buffalonian,” according to the Buffalo News. She has two priorities, she said: Student safety and “prioritizing an excellent education for our students.” Buffalo Public Schools has approximately 34,000 students.